Election Day’s Biggest Winners and Biggest Losers

By Robert Haugh

Biggest Winners

Lisa Gillmor — We expected her to win, but not by this big a margin — 74 percent! Okay, she had a really weak and unqualified opponent. But the last time we had a mayor’s race, former Mayor Jamie Matthews had a really weak and unqualified opponent in Deborah Bress who said during the campaign that the City killed her dog. And Matthews only got 69 percent!  Gillmor also ran a good campaign. Her brochures actually said something. She asked the voters to let her continue the reforms that she started two years ago, especially against the 49ers. Santa Clarans said yes — in a big way.

Karen Hardy — Even though she did not raise or spend much money, she won big too — 73 percent! Hardy is a popular and successful teacher at Wilcox High School. She was smart to put her opponent on the defensive when he stupidly attacked her for the school’s test scores. Eight years ago, Hardy was a leader against the building of the stadium. Look for her to be a leader on the council against the 49ers.  

Dorothy Rosa — Okay, she wasn’t on the ballot. But she would have won something if she were. Her video for Gillmor was the best local political commercial a lot of people have ever seen. If she wasn’t the most popular person in the Mission City before, she is now.  Rosa for Mayor or Supervisor in 2022?

City Staff — They weren’t on the ballot either. But City Manager Deanna Santana and her new top staff have done a lot of good work lately. Their audits have led to a lot of reforms and management clean up. We knew before the election that Santa Clarans like the direction of the city. Now, it’s official.

Biggest Losers

Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce PAC — Everyone’s calling them the “Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” — or worse. We broke the news that they haven’t been filing campaign reports for years — a big no-no. But did they save their money for a possible big fine? Nope. They spent almost all their cash on a negative brochure against Gillmor. Huh? If they don’t have enough money, their treasurer Dave Tobkin is personally liable for it ($43K+). Ouch. And the brochure was horrible. It was a long list of confusing, whiny complaints. It was like a badly written column in a local publication.  If anyone read it, they didn’t care. (See Biggest Winners list)

49ers — See Biggest Winner’s list. It was significant that no one wants to take their money. The only person (Susan Ellenberg) who indirectly “took” their money, got unfairly slammed for it.  Today, they may be less popular in Santa Clara than the Raiders are in Oakland.

Anthony BeckerHe was a weak and unqualified candidate. He spent the campaign taking dumb and cheap shots at his opponent. The voters slammed Becker head first into the turnbuckle. He could have been more substantive and positive and lost gracefully. Then, Becker would have set himself up for a future run.

Sam Kumar —  See Anthony Becker.

Patty Mahan — We’re thinking that Mahan is not very good at politics. When she ran in 2016, she filed complaints against two councilwomen who weren’t even running against her. Then, she openly complains that no one on the council talks to her. Wonder why. This year, she was the most visible supporter of the unqualified Becker because she dislikes Gillmor so much. And she co-endorsed Raj Chahal and Nancy Biagini, potentially alienating the winner. We’re guessing Mahan will be on the short end of a lot of 6-1 votes next year.

Santa Clara Weekly — They used their ink to attack Gillmor, City staff and defend the Chamber PAC. See Biggest Winners and Biggest Losers lists. But the biggest loss for them was advertising. No candidates seemed to have spent money in the publication this year. Candidates told us they didn’t like their weak and biased writing. They were also concerned that the Weekly doesn’t distribute enough copies and has few subscribers. That’s a big change from just a couple years ago.


  1. Raj Chahal supported Tony Becker who was Patty Mahan’s puppet. Is Chahal going to be Patty’s puppet? Wonder if that 6-1 prediction will be 5-2? Another eyeroll….

    • Maybe Deborah should have stayed and run against Lisa! She got more than 30% of vote when she ran against Jamie! Definitely did better than Tony!! Big eyeroll….

    • We still have a cliffhanger in the City Clerk race. Nancy and Raj is technically too close to call. Lisa and Karen are landslide victors for sure.

      It may be a while before we can declare the Clerk winner! Some people don’t understand “precincts reported” vs. ballots actually counted.

Leave a Reply